Postpartum depression

General or Other | General Practice | Postpartum depression (Disease)


Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that begins after childbirth and usually lasts beyond six weeks. Feelings of anxiety, irritation, tearfulness, and restlessness are common in the week or two after pregnancy. These feelings are often called the postpartum or baby blues.

These symptoms almost always go away soon, without the need for treatment. Postpartum depression may occur when the baby blues do not fade away or when signs of depression start 1 or more months after childbirth.

Causes and Risk factors

Postpartum depression (PPD) seems to be triggered by the sudden hormone changes that happen after childbirth. These hormonal changes most commonly lead to postpartum depression when paired with risk factors such as previous depression (including bipolar disorder), poor support from your partner, friends, and family, or a high level of stress.

The hormone changes and grief following miscarriage and stillbirth also trigger PPD in many women. Postpartum depression may lead mothers to be inconsistent with childcare.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Women diagnosed with postpartum depression often focus more on the negative events of childcare, resulting in poor coping strategies. Early identification and intervention improves long term prognoses for most women. Some success with preemptive treatment has been found as well.

A major part of prevention is being informed about the risk factors, and the medical community can play a key role in identifying and treating postpartum depression. Women should be screened by their physician to determine their risk for acquiring postpartum depression. Also, proper exercise and nutrition appears to play a role in preventing postpartum, and general, depression. ...